Time to clean-up ‘toxic mess’

RELATED COVERAGE: The cost of relocating‘Selective’ clean-up process angers residents

MORWELL residents cleaning coal ash from their homes left by the Hazelwood mine fire will receive some State Government assistance.

Premier Denis Napthine visited the town on Monday to announce a $2 million community assistance package to help with the clean-up process.

Voices of the Valley president, and organiser of the Morwell fire rally, Simon Ellis said it was about time the government began to pitch-in to clean up the “toxic mess”.

However, Mr Ellis said any relief package should include the costs of a comprehensive professional clean-up and not just a figure “plucked from the sky”.

“Asking residents to clean up the toxic coal ash is also just exposing us to further risk, and is the government’s way of shirking responsibility,” Mr Ellis said.

“(At) first we had a half-baked evacuation, and now the government’s offering up a half-baked clean up. People are crying out for help – it’s just not good enough.”

The government has purchased 150 HEPA vacuum cleaners and high pressure water hoses for people to borrow to clean their properties.

A free professional house cleaning service will also be available for vulnerable residents, including those who recently received relocation assistance, existing home and community care clients and those assessed as ‘high needs’ because of their age, disability or health condition.

“Most Morwell households and business are keen to get on with their own clean-up, but may need some specialised equipment to do the job properly,” Dr Napthine said.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan emphasised the (clean-up) program was “but another stage” in an ongoing program and assured the government would stand-by the Latrobe Valley community.

Clean-up kits and vouchers will be available from Friday. Residents wanting more information on the clean-up package, to receive a kit or vouchers, can phone Latrobe City Council on 1800 017 777 or go online at www.latrobe.vic.gov.au